Moving countries: a torn heart

They always say how hard it is to go but they never say how dreadful it is to come back. I didn’t think I would come back to my home country but I believe that a lot of people didn’t expect 2020’s outcomes and consequences.

If you don’t know me, my name is Nicole and I went to study in the UK in 2016 with big hopes and aspirations, four years later I decided to come back to my home country, Portugal. I went to Southampton having just made 18 and now I am almost 23, I really don’t take this lightly.

Photo taken for a project on first year.

Being in Portugal never brought me what I aspired to be and having the priviledge to study in the UK, I saw it as a way out and I had never been so excited.

Everyone around me was shocked that a shy girl like me would ever decide to make such a big decision. Even my family didn’t give me a proper goodbye because they thought I would get a flight back as soon as I would arrive or would get cold-feet.

Reality is that the only thing that could top England is my childhood. Since my 10 years old that I was searching for happiness and comfort and in 2016 I found it.

It wasn’t easy, at all, but the spirit of adventure and the adrenaline really took over me and did things I never thought I was capable of. I had problems with my accomodation, as everyone has, problems with housemates, work, university, struggling with independency, self-care and so many others. But it’s truly rewarding being able to sort out everything and thinking that you have been underestimating yourself and you are such a powerful human being.

Second-year Nicole with the ‘Minnie Mouse’ years.

I have been so much happiness as well. I felt that I couldn’t be the person I was. Being honest or funny in my own way never lead me to make friends or be even accepted sometimes. I know my problems are so little when compared to others but this is my story and it has all the right to be told as well. In England I found people with the same ambition and interests. Even the little things such as wearing my ‘Minnie Mouse’ hat in the winter and not being judged. I can be whatever I want.

That flatering photo I took one day in second-year.
This was the most stressful year where anxiety was a given.

The memories I mostly like to think of are of my friends and I hanging out and crying laughing at our stupidity. Even if we knew that everyone had their roads and this was a simple cross of paths for a short period of time, we lived the hell out of that period of time.

The moments I would feel terribly hollow were of those I would realise we wouldn’t be together for much longer. And indeed we are now scattered around the globe. Portugal, Romania, UK, France, Bulgaria, Italy, Netherlands, and this list could go on for miles.


I have now been in Portugal for a month and a half. I’m about to celebrate my birthday at home for the first time in four years, without those that got scattered, without my favourite spinach cake and the imense parks all around the city.

Christmas for the first time in three years. Appologies but I am not excited about this one. My honesty is everything to me and although I love my family and am grateful to be around them, a part of my heart shatters for the memories of failed cakes and pavlovas from Tesco.

I had made a life and plans out there and now I am in here. Plans I have never discussed with anyone but with myself.

England was a temporary situation for me but so was Portugal. I also have my big mission that scares me everyday mostly because I don’t see myself going closer to it.

People tell me I’m young. I’m only 22, well 23 in two hours, I hate thinking that way. Everyday should be an adventure. Everyday I should feel free and accomplished. Re-define age. Pressure is certainly a part of it but that’s what makes you stand up and not settle.

Nicole 2020 during a pandemic, with obvious changes of age, wrinkles and stress.
Oh, and the pink hair.

I mean, when someone goes to England at 18 you probably have the expectations right up there. No? Just me then.

I have learnt my worth. I have learnt that that is dangerous to some people. I have learnt to recognise that’s toxic and I have learnt to let go.

I didn’t expect to get so caught up with the bloody island but I am, terribly. I feel that Portugal is making me weak, I need to wake up. I can’t settle. Keeping myself busy like I my own Nanny is making me feel powerless. That’s not me.

Happy birthday Nicole.

I would like to share more of my memories of England. This was a tiny tour around the block compared to what I have. If that’s something you would like to see make sure to comment on this post.

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